Monday, October 12, 2009

Maryland observations

It is near the end of crab season in Maryland. We've seen everything from commercial crabbing to personal crabbing. The commercial guys go out early to check their pots, often before they have to go to their second jobs because crabbing doesn't support a family any more. The personal crabbers, with just a few pots or a net, work their favorite locations when they have the time. When we were in the Wye River the guy in this picture came in around sun-up and dragged his net across the grassy bottoms at the side of the creek, scooping up hard crabs and molting "peeler" crabs, the catch that becomes soft shell crabs on the dinner plate. After he would scrap the bottom for a distance, he would raise the net, sort through what he had caught and toss back the crabs that were too small to keep.

We've had wonderful anchorages in Maryland, especially this weekend. Our friends, Rob and Carol Harris, were with us. We went up the Patuxent River to St. Leonard's Creek. The cruising guide described it as "the most beautiful" anchorage on the Patuxent and it didn't disappoint us. The trees on the creek are starting to turn fall colors. Yesterday afternoon as we were enjoying the quiet, sunny, crisp afternoon from the back deck, we saw a bald eagle swoop down to catch a fish, then land in a nearby tree to enjoy his catch. This morning we saw three deer near the dock in the picture.

Fall has definitely come to Maryland. The highs for the next four days won't be out of the 50s. Jim is still wearing shorts, but I admit to being a Florida wimp. It's pants and sweatshirts for me. Next time we go home, I'm taking all of the shorts back to Cleveland and replacing them with jeans and more sweats on the boat. Thank goodness my mother gave us zip-up sweatshirt jackets with Down Time's name on them as Christmas gifts the year the year we got the boat. Otherwise, I'd have frozen to death already.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Solomon's Island

We decided not to stay in Annapolis for the boat show. We got a good weather window, so we moved south from Annapolis to Solomon's Island, a boating community on the north shore of the Patuxent River, just up from where the river meets the Chesapeake Bay.

The island only has about 1,500 people; the surrounding area is larger but still fairly rural. Across the river, in St. Mary's County, is the Patuxent Naval Air Station. Judging from the traffic trying to get over the river in the mornings, I'm guessing a lot of the locals work there or for one of the defense contractors who have offices near the base.

Solomon's is a walkable town with a number of restaurants because it is a tourism center in the summer. It also has an amazingly good gourmet grocery store because it provides provisions for the hundreds of weekend boaters from DC, Maryland, Virginia and other places who keep their boats here in the summer. No public transit, but we went and got our car when we arrived here, so we're not dependent on buses.

It turns out that friends of ours, Don and Ruth Kalen, who own the same boat we do, are here in Solomon's as well. Unfortunately, they are here because they are having major problems with their boat. But we spent the day yesterday catching up with them and really enjoyed it. They spend most of their summers in upstate New York and have been through the areas we will travel next summer, so it was good to get their input on where to go and what to see. Later this week our friends, Rob and Carol Harris, arrive to spend Columbus Day weekend with us on the boat, so we're having a very social week.

Annapolis is as far north as we are going this year. The next challenge is to determine what we will do with the boat this winter. Jim has several possibilities under consideration, ranging from leaving the boat in northern Virginia to taking it back to New Bern, North Carolina. We're waiting to hear about availability in several marinas before we make a decision. In the meantime, I'm off to a cross stitch show with my mother next week and then we have to travel back to Cleveland where workmen are coming to work on the windows in the condo.

What do you do all day?

One of the questions we are asked occasionally is "What do you do all day?" This comes from folks who envision us sitting around reading books and eating bonbons. I'll admit, there is a fair amount of reading books, but the daily details of life ashore are magnified greatly when you live on a boat. For example, just planning and executing the grocery shopping can be quite an adventure on a boat.

The first thing you take into consideration in menu planning is that there are only two burners on the stove and they are pretty close together. You can get a small sauce pan and a saute pan on the stove at the same time, but two saute pans or a dutch oven and a saute pan aren't going to fit. So one factor in meal planning is how many and what size pans are needed. We use the grill on the stern of the boat whenever possible.

Then there is the "carry everything" factor. When we don't have our car, as we haven't had for the last three weeks, everything we buy at the grocery store has to be carried to the boat. We can each handle two boat bags, but I have to be judicious in what I plan to buy, considering both the bulk and the weight.

Finally there is the issue of how long it takes to get to and from a grocery store. In Annapolis going to the grocery store involved getting the water taxi from the boat to the shore, walking a half a mile to the bus stop, taking a 30 minute bus ride to the grocery store, and then reversing the process to get home. Buying a week's worth of groceries consumed nearly five hours by the time you added the wait time for the buses.